Wright, E. et al., 2013. Lab on a Chip

Single cell swimming dynamics of Listeria monocytogenes using a naoporous microfluidic device

Evan Wright, Suresh Neethirajan, Keith Warriner, Scott Retterer, and Bernadeta Srijanto
03 December 2013 , Lab on a Chip 14(5): 938-46; doi:10.1039/c3lc51138c


 Listeria monocytogenes remains a significant foodborne pathogen due to its virulence and ability to become established in food processing facilities. The pathogen is characterized by its ability to grow over a wide temperature range and withstand a broad range of stresses. The following reports on the chemotaxis and motility of the L. monocytogenes when exposed to relatively small concentrations of acetic acid. Using the developed nanoporous microfluidic device to precisely modulate the cellular environment, we exposed the individual Listeria cells to acetic acid and, in real time and with high resolution, observed how the cells reacted to the change in their surroundings. Our results showed that concentrations of acetic acid below 10 mM had very little, if any, effect on the motility. However, when exposed to 100 mM acetic acid, the cells exhibited a sharp drop in velocity and displayed a more random pattern of motion. These results indicate that at appropriate concentrations, acetic acid has the ability to disable the flagellum of the cells, thus impairing their motility. This drop in motility has numerous effects on the cell; its main effects being the obstruction of the cell’s ability to properly form biofilms and a reduction in the overall infectivity of the cells. Since these characteristics are especially useful in controlling the proliferation of L. monocytogenes, acetic acid shows potential for application in the food industry as an active compound in designing a food packaging environment and as an antimicrobial agent.


E Wright, S Neethirajan, K Warriner, S Retterer and B Srijanto. 2014. Single cell swimming dynamics of Listeria monocytogenes using a nanoporous microfluidic device. Lab on a Chip 5: 817-1034 doi : 10.1039/c31c51138c